To Trust or Not to Trust?

“Trust takes years to build,

Seconds to break and forever to repair.”

We’ve all been taught to trust adults when we’re young. We are told to trust authority when we’re entering the world, we trust our hearts with relationships, and perhaps past performance when it comes to business relationships, but what does trust look like?

Trust comes in a variety of packages. It takes a trained eye to recognize authenticity. We tend to want to trust people implicitly, but tough experiences tend to teach that we need to give people room to prove themselves.

More importantly, learning to trust ourselves is the rudder that directs the ship out to sea. Trusting our inner voice at first is difficult. When I began to dissect myself, I had to untangle who I believed I was verses who I had been told I was. There were too many voices in my head describing me. I had to learn to trust myself first to trust others. It is a process we all need to walk through.

When we are young we first need to try on different personalities, philosophies of life, and emulate those we admire most. Eventually though, we need to form our own opinions as to who we are rather than who others think we are, or who we are told to be. We can become stuck in our personalities because we have not explored what thoughts belong to us and which ones have been handed to us. We don’t trust ourselves to be ourselves, but we need to.

What makes us trustworthy?

Here are a few ways to build trust worthiness:

  • Do what you say you’ll do. A person who over-promises and only rarely delivers, is not someone others can put their trust in. People need to know that we think through what we are going to do before we commit. It gives others confidence in us and our word. As much as we would love to be all things to all people, it’s never going to be doable. Use an old sales adage I was taught—under promise and over-deliver.
  • Over Communicate. Often what we say is not what the other person heard. Without being condescending, ask them to tell you what you just said to be certain you are communicating clearly. Honest communication builds trust that others can bank on. It gives others a chance to know us so well that when they hear something ‘off’ they will recognize there is a problem because we would never do ‘that.’
  • Value the people around you. We might think everyone around us, including family, friends, and co-workers, know exactly how much we value them. Truth is, most do not, unless we tell them often and in various ways. You need to be careful we do not take them for granted—it’s easy to do. When we are under stress or uber busy, look up, live in the moment, and remind our support that we cannot get life done well without them.
  • Prioritize Honesty. Tell the truth even when it hurts. Being less than honest builds shaky relationships. Lying says either, “I don’t think you are strong enough to handle the truth” or “I don’t value you enough to be honest with you.” We think we are helping by hiding or dressing up the truth when in fact we are dishonoring the person and destroying our integrity.
  • Serve others but set boundaries. Stepping back from our own priorities speaks volumes to an individual that we care about them enough to put them at the top of the list of things ‘to do.’ Serving cheerfully restates that they are valuable. Overdoing for a person says we do not think you’re capable and sets a situation that can cause them to be dependent. Find a balance. Serve, but do not cripple them.
  • Be true to you. People want to know we care. When we share our emotions –good, bad, or ugly—we build a bridge that allows them in. If we hide our emotions under the guise of being professional or strong, we dig a moat between us and them. If we are hurt, it’s okay to be sad. If we’re upset don’t pretend we’re not. Body language is easy to read; so, when our body tells a different message than our words, we are not trustworthy. On the flip side, people who live in their emotions constantly are equally difficult to trust. Be true to our feelings but if a situation calls for a reaction on a scale of 1-10 and we are always reacting as a 9 or 10, not only are we hard to trust but we’re exhausting, and relationships will break down.
  • Don’t Fling Your Resume. Johnny Appleseed’s dad use to tell him, “If there’s any bragging to be done about you, let someone else be doing it!” There are times to self-promote, but if we always command the floor, it’s time to step back and notice the other people in the room. Look, we all want to be the hero in our own stories but lifting others up will bring life to a room and the ‘braggin’ will be done by them.
  • Believe enough in your values to be true to them. When we build a reputation of doing what we believe to be right, even when others disagree with us, they may not like our stance, but they will respect our choices and our consistent veracity. It makes us reliable when we stick to what we believe is true. If we have chameleon principles, we become fickle and unpredictable. We become a risk. There is a saying that goes, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” We must stick to our foundational beliefs. After all, if people see us sell out, they expect then that we would sell out on them.
  • Be quick to say we are wrong. All of us make mistakes. Be the first one to admit that you failed or were hurtful. This goes back to the same reasons to be honest. Not admitting guilt particularly if it’s obvious, makes us look immature and that means we are no longer trustworthy.

If we can practice these few simple strategies, we will experience a life of calm security. We will not have to remember a lie we might have told; we won’t have to ask for forgiveness for being mean, we won’t have to feel like a wave on shifting sand, and we won’t have to worry about being abandoned when those around us feel under-valued.

Building trust starts with being trustworthy. People young and old get behind a person with honorable convictions and who takes the time to build relationships that can be depended on. Challenge yourself to be the most trustworthy person you know!

For more like this and the included workbook pages check out Dare To Be A Badass Book!